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Historical capital of Catalonia and second city in Spain, Barcelona is a city with many faces, between the sea and the mountains, tradition and vanguard. It is mainly its culture, of amazing wealth, that has shaped Catalan identity and which the inhabitants of Barcelona only want to share with those who know how to appreciate it.

Some people say that Barcelona with its population of 1.6 millions (city) and 5 millions (metropolitan area) is the biggest non-capital city of Europe. Whether this might be correct or not anyone will probably agree that Barcelona is big and beautiful!

Located at the Mediterranean sea in the very north of the Spanish coast, it is certainly the most cosmopolitan, progressive and modern city of Spain linked to the rest of Europe for its inspiration and its innovations.

The glorious modernist architecture from Antoni Gaudí with its fascinating and fantastic Sagrada Família, Pedrera, ParkGuëll.spreads all over the city's streets and avenues and has left its mark on Barcelona. Catalonia and Barcelona have always had a very rich art movement/tradition and are source of some of the greatest modern artist such as Joan Miró, Dali, Antoni Tàpies and other well known personalities like Bigas Luna (director), Pau Casals (musician and composer), Lluis Llach (singer), Eduardo Mendoza (writer), Manuel Vásquez Montalbán (writer)...

The following buildings in Barcelona have been declared World Heritage by the Unesco: Casa Milà, Park Güell, the Palau de la Música Catalana and the hospital of Sant Pau.

As the second city of Spain, with its international flair, its mild weather and the beach only a few metro stops away, it is easy to understand why so many foreigners choose Barcelona to live and work.

A survey by Arthur Andersen for the magazine Fortune in 1997 "Europe's most improved cities", placed Barcelona as the third city which has improved most in recent years (after Dublin and Amsterdam). Another study by Healey & Baker 1998 shows that Barcelona has moved from occupying the 13th position in 1992, to consolidate the 6th position in the ranking of the best European cities for locating a business.
Finally, according to a study carried out by Mercer consultants based on the prices from January to June 2003 in 144 metropolis worldwide, Barcelona is one of the least expensive cities in the whole world in which to live.

About 5% of Barcelona's total population are foreigners. These 74000 residents originate to about 49% from North & South America, 22% from Europe, 16% from Asia and 13% from Africa.

Having attracted many immigrants (especially from south America as they share the same language) Barcelona has to cope with illegal and often unskilled immigration.

The population is ageing and birth-rate is low partly to the lack of social aid/support from the government. The public health service is suffering from inefficiency and long waiting times/lists. Standards in schools and universities are low and the justice system is slow and unreliable. It is also one of the most densely populated cities in the world (18 156 inhabitants/km²), with an oppressive quantity of cars and motor scooters, and consistently ranks as one of the noisiest. The 1992 held Olympic Games have without a doubt given Barcelona a massive impulse to reinvent itself, to reshape its face and to open the city to the sea. Barcelona's drive for self-improvement and self-promotion sometimes seems unstoppable. And as before, it has a 'big event' to display its next stage of growth, the Forum Universal de Cultures, a locally-conceived project of rather questionable usefulness supported by UNESCO, whose aim is to celebrate cultural diversity and world peace. Scheduled from May to September 2004, the project will no doubt provide the city with yet another reason to build and expand.






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